Blokker, Paul (2007) Cultural Diversity and Democracy in Post-Enlargement Europe. [Other] (Unpublished)
Abstract. The ‘return to Europe’ of the new member states of the European Union is widely seen as a reunification of the ‘European family’. In this, the profound processes of transformation that these societies are experiencing are mostly understood as a continent-wide process of convergence. But such far-reaching processes of change have equally shown to involve forms of differentiation, in particular in terms of political and cultural diversity. Such differentiation has significance for the European project as such, but its implications are often not sufficiently acknowledged, neither in theory nor in praxis. The enlargement shows the limits of a conception of Europe as either a homogeneous ‘Fortress Europe’ or a ‘Europe of the nations’. The paper focuses in the first part on multiple forms of cultural diversity that have gained significance in the post-communist era. In the second part, a number of normative approaches to democracy in the European setting will be reviewed in order to assess to what extent these recognize and engage with the multiple collective identities outlined in the first part. On the ne hand, cultural diversity will be analysed in the light of a common European identity, in as far as such a shared identity is deemed necessary for a European democratic order. On the other hand, their potential for the de-essentialization of national identities, and the recognition, participation, and accommodation of multiple cultural identities in European democracy is looked at. In the concluding section, it will be argued that both ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ approaches to a European identity and cultural diversity are unsatisfactory and that instead a more pluralized approach seems possible.
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